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The federal government has spent trillions of dollars to help dull the economic pain from the coronavirus pandemic, but some Democratic lawmakers say it’s not enough — and want to see monthly payments of $2,000 given to most Americans until the crisis begins to fade.
In mid-April, Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna and Tim Ryan unveiled the Emergency Money for People Act, which would distribute cash payments to every American age 16 or older who earns less than $130,000 annually. The bill would distribute an extra $500 per child for up to three children and would last for six months; a married couple who makes under $260,000 and has three children would receive $5,500 per month.
The money would be delivered via direct deposit, check or a mobile payment app like Venmo.
Although the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed into law at the end of March included one-time payments of $1,200 for Americans earning less than $75,000 (and an additional $500 per child), Khanna and Ryan have argued it’s not enough. The payments are tapered for higher-earners and phase out completely for individuals who earn more than $99,000.
“Rent is due this week. Utilities are coming up. Americans need to cash, this month, next month, and every month after that until this crisis ends,” Khanna tweeted last week. “A single, $1200 check isn’t going to cut it.”
The crisis has walloped Americans financially: In the six weeks since the majority of the country shutdown to mitigate the spread of the virus, more than 30 million workers have lost their jobs. Unemployment at this scale hasn’t been recorded since the Great Depression, when the jobless rate peaked at 25 percent.
An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Wednesday revealed that 50 percent of Americans said they or someone in their household has either lost a job or had their hours reduced as a result of the virus outbreak. That is up from 18 percent a month ago.
The bill initially had 17 other cosponsors, all Democrats. But since it was introduced, the bill has gained an additional 10 Democratic co-sponsors and has been touted online by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang (a proponent of universal base income).
“Thank you, @RepTimRyan! I'm proud to join you,” Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, one of the new co-sponsors, wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Monthly payments of at least $2,000 during this crisis will provide more security for many families in Oregon and across the country.”